Moeller: Darnold Return Generates Both Excitement and Anxiety

The growing hype around Sam Darnold’s return to the Jets’ lineup Sunday against Dallas at Met Life

wasn’t the only thing buzzing around Florham Park Saturday.

The release of quarterback Luke Falk also was adding to the mix.

Or maybe it just means the Jets are totally convinced Darnold is mono-free and spleen safe.

Whatever the case, the “franchise” will be back under center late tomorrow afternoon.

A practice squad quarterback who had a history with head coach Adam Gase and was pushed into

service when backup Trevor Siemian broke his ankle, Falk never really looked the part as he

completed 47 of 73 passes for 416 yards with three interceptions. He also was the victim of

16 sacks behind the Jets’ porous offensive line. He doesn’t really look like NFL stock and maybe

the upcoming XFL can be an outlet.

The Jets surprisingly kept David Fales as Darnold’s backup. The little-used Fales is a 29-year-old who has

Bounced around with five other teams since 2014.

It’s easy to question why the Jets haven’t signed a veteran backup like Sam Bradford or Brock Osweiler

just for  the sake of a seasoned backup.

Darnold is cleared and excited to get back on the field.

But do you feel totally confident about his situation before the game? Do you think the Jets totally do?

This is putting your future and franchise back on the field behind an offensive line that has looked

more like a matador waving a red flag to the defense. 

If Darnold is truly 100 percent, he will be more mobile and more aware than Falk was to the

rush around him.

Darnold has downplayed any of the hype that he is retuning too soon to try and salvage something

from a 0-4 start.

“I think having a couple weeks of practices under my belt is a good thing,” he stressed. “It’s definitely

going to help with that, but there’s nothing like Sunday and I think going out there and going out there

and playing the first couple series, I think will be a little bit of a shock to the system, I guess you could

say. But I think I’m going to be ready and hopefully, after those couple series, I think, I’ll feel right at


Darnold will face a Dallas defense that was uncharacteristically rattled last week by New Orleans,  a unit

many feel can carry them to the NFC East Championship. The Cowboys are ranked sixth overall, allowing

an average of just 18 points a game and 321 yards.

Cowboys’ middle linebacker Jayson Smith is the league’s ninth-rated tackler with 45 stops and two of

the team’s 12 sacks.

However, Darnold’s return can alleviate some pressure from running back Le’Veon Bell, who

has been bottled up with 206 yards without a touchdown.

Darnold also can look to Ty Montgomery as more of a run/pass option, and the Jets need to get Bilal

Powell more into the scheme of things.

Everyone will be able to totally exhale once Darnold scrambles out of the pocket or throws a target

down field and can get back up after a hit.

The franchise —  not “Sanchise” like in the past – will be back and Jets’ fans once again can dream the

“impossible” dream 50-plus years later.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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